Staying together in Disney World is hard, and to be frank, it’s not always the kid’s fault.
This is something I found in Legoland. With 3 other people, it is not three times harder, but exponentially 3 times harder. Maybe 300 times harder.
So let’s look at the challenges we face.
If I can cite a Disney movie, I’m very much like Dug the Dog from Up who suddenly stops when he sees a squirrel. Mostly it’s about seeing a great picture opportunity, but sometimes, I just kinda wander off like a lost puppy.
It’s because of my Joe 1.0 life. I was used to traveling with only one other person. Easy to stay together. Easy to shout, “oooh, I want to get a picture of the Disney Castle with the marching band in front and an old lamppost on the right and the sun behind me,” then head off and take that picture.
What I really need to do is to keep an eye on everyone else, but instead, it becomes a game – Who’s the last to see Joe has to figure out where he wandered off to! But on the plus side, I don’t move that fast.
The-Youngest wants to race to the next thing to do, or worse, like me, he’ll see a squirrel and head towards it without warning. Or warning that we can understand.
He’s more Dug the dog than me simply by the speed which he runs off. One second he’s by your side, the next he’s walking along the top of a 400’ wall. With barbed wire. In the rain.
The-Oldest seems to want to lag behind, mostly because he’s a teenager and vaguely embarrassed to be seen with us.
I mean, who can blame him. I have sunscreen slathered on so thick that I look like I’ve been coated in lard in preparation for deep frying. Worse, I wear super comfortable shorts that make me look like a Bavarian Slapdancer.
The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, well, she had no real faults here, as she simply tries to keep everyone close, worried they’d be stolen by stormtroopers in Hollywood Studios or eaten by bears at Whistler.
So, how did we go about staying together in Disney World with those 3 challenges?
Yelling helps, but it has to be a good, loud shout. Not, “joe, ah could you please come back here,” But “JOE!!!” Like you would shout at a dog before it pees on the neighbour’s leg.
See, shouting breaks the subject’s focus. Instead of thinking about the next ride or where best someone can take an amazing picture of Ironman hugging a 2-year-old, the person stops to look back at whoever is shouting at them.
It’s a good tactic.
A mom-voice helps here, the kind of voice you can hear from 12 blocks away while you’re riding shopping carts a down steep hill with your brother. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, despite her size and otherwise gentle demeanour, can summon that voice, a voice like someone dispelling a demon.
Me? I’ve worked on my dad-voice, trying to avoid sounding like the teacher in Ferris Bueler, “Bueler… Beuler,” and more like Gerald Butler’s King Leonidas in 300 (THIS IS SPARTA!) Sadly, I think I end up sounding like Gilbert Gottfried, but whatever, it gets the job done.
Next – Physical restraint works.
The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World had two moves.
One, she calls, ‘Holding Hands,’ but let’s be honest, it’s restraint, (restraint with love, maybe, but with her kung-fu grip, none of us are escaping.)
At some point, this may no longer work on The-Youngest when he’s, like, 30 and has been working out for 10 years, he may too strong for his mom. But until then, it works, even on The-Oldest who would rather be seen pant-less than holding hands with his mom.
The second move is ‘The Grab’. Sometimes you have to actually grab someone to stop them from racing into a crowd to be swept away by the sweaty river of humanity. Basically, you grab wherever you can grab, the shirt, the arm, the backpack…
I am good at this one, even at my old age.
The last, but perhaps least effective, is ‘Talking About Staying Together.” A lot.
You’d think this would work with me and The-Oldest, but being Dug the Dog means words are useless on me sometimes, and The-Oldest lives inside his head so much that he could wander off a cliff and not even realize he’s hurtling to his death until he hears a loud ‘splat’ sound.
However, ‘Talking About Staying Together’ is like an ice sculpture. For a short time, it’s cool, but then melts and you have to clean up the mess.
So, are we successful at staying together?
Like any family, not always, but we haven’t lost anyone, yet.